Fez Developers Struggle with Re-Certification Costs for Bug Fix
Over the last few weeks, Fez developer Polytron has been trying to deal with the problems caused by a bug-fixing patch they released—a patch that led to even more problems. According to a post on Gamasutra, the patch was first released last month, but was removed because it was corrupting some users’ saves.
However, where most developers would make and release a newer patch, Polytron won’t be doing that. The reason, it seems, are the “tens of thousands of dollars” Microsoft would charge them to recertify the game. And because the bug only affects “less than a percent of players,” it’s not in the company’s interests to spend that money. As such, they’re going to be re-releasing the patch that fixed most of the bugs—such as framerate issues, loading issues, death loops, and more—but caused the save corruptions for some gamers. Phil Fish from Polytron explained the situation on their website:
“It’s a shitty numbers game to be playing for sure, but as a small independent, paying so much money for patches makes NO SENSE AT ALL. especially when you consider the alternative. Had FEZ been released on steam instead of XBLA, the game would have been fixed two weeks after release, at no cost to us. And if there was an issue with that patch, we could have fixed that right away too!
We believe the save file corruption issue mostly happened to players who had completed, or almost completed the game. If you hadn’t already seen most of what FEZ had to offer, your save file is probably safe. It doesn’t happen if you start a new game.
We believe the current patch is safe for an overwhelming majority of players.”
Fish continued, apologizing to the relatively few gamers who were affected by the problem, and explaining the position the company found themselves in to try and deal with the issue:
“To the less-than-1% who are getting screwed, we sincerely apologize. We know this hurts you the most, because you’re the ones who put the most times into the game. And this breaks our hearts. We hope you don’t think back on your time spent in FEZ as a total waste.
Microsoft gave us a choice: either pay a ton of money to re-certify the game and issue a new patch (which for all we know could introduce new issues, for which we’d need yet another costly patch), or simply put the patch back online. They looked into it, and the issue happens so rarely that they still consider the patch to be ‘good enough.’
It wasn’t an easy decision, but in the end, paying such a large sum of money to jump through so many hoops just doesn’t make any sense. We already owe Microsoft a LOT of money for the privilege of being on their platform. People often mistakenly believe that we got paid by Microsoft for being exclusive to their platform. Nothing could be further from the truth. WE pay THEM.”
Anyone out there gotten hit by this bug? Is the game still worth getting despite the problem? Since it’s exclusive to Microsoft’s XBLA, it seems unlikely that it’ll appear on Steam anytime soon…unless I’m mistaken about how this all works.
This also isn’t the first time an independent game studio has had issues with Microsoft’s way of doing business. A little over a year ago, Team Meat—the developers of, what else, Super Meat Boy—publicly bashed Microsoft’s promotion of their game. And then that led to Zen Studios coming to Microsoft’s defense in September.
The fact that it would cost so much for Polytron to release a patch to their game is pretty weak on Microsoft’s part, I have to say. At the same time, here we are—isn’t that kind of the cost of doing business? I’d like to know what led to the company making Fez an XBLA exclusive if the deal wound up being so lousy for them.